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Poster: T. Welch Date: Sep 7, 2005 11:27am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

I remember a Rolling Stone interview where Brent said he bought the Dead's first album when it came out. His baand "Silver" did release an album on Arista I beleive. Kieth and Donna's domestic and substance abuse problems probably was the real dimissal reasons. At the time the Dead said something about parting ways to search for new sounds, etc. Later with Brent they said they had a need for keyboards sounding more full and not percussive (Kieth wanted to stick to his baby grand). A damn shame he died so soon after.

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Poster: patkelley Date: Sep 7, 2005 12:48pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

I think that the Dead had to get rid of these two more for the sake of the band's music than anything else. The Godchauxs represented a time that the Dead did well to leave behind. They became a much much better band, with a bigger, fuller sound during the 80s and 90s and their musicianship, collectively, became truly professional. I realize most people on here probably think the Dead didn't have a good show after, like, 1978 or something, but all that off-key singing from Donna was terrible and, honestly, you always have to struggle to hear what Keith tried to pass off as a solo. When they left, the Dead became the Dead.

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Poster: agitarius Date: Mar 12, 2006 10:01am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

just stimbled on this thread. get this straight- keith was too drunk and tweeked to play, Donna was never able to hear herself with the monitors- plus she was a studio singer (Elvis')not a live singer.
Plus let's get this straight no matter how much they want deny it- she was sleeping with more than one memeber of the band
this is part of the reasonwhy all the books stop in 1975

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Sep 7, 2005 8:22pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

I don't think Donna ever really RUINED any of the Dead's best work w/some of her off-key wailing (w/the possible exception of some shrieking in the stand alone Scarlets played in 1976)...certainly the classic shows played in 1977 are not affected negatively at all by her. Donna is actually a fine singer--if you want proof just listen to the lovely studio outtake she did w/Jerry on "The Way you do the Things you do" contained in the boxed set of Garcia album re-issues put out last year. But she always said--and I believe it's true--that she had trouble hearing herself on stage, and when you think about how loud the band was playing--wall of sound, etc.--that is a challenge. That being said, Brent's voice was better suited to the harmonies in songs like Scarlet, Eyes, and many others.

Keith is a more difficult nut to crack. I liked his playing fine, but he showed no desire to move beyond his very basic baby grand tinkling, which, like Donna, was often drowned out by the rest of the band's "big sound" playing. I think keith was every bit as talented as Brent, but did not have Brent's sense of exploration to use other sounds, expand his abilities, and enhance what the rest of the band was doing. Brent was necessary for the Dead to grow beyond their 1970's sound, and I say that as a fan who prefers the 1977 year to any other out there.

What I would like to have seen is Keith moving beyond the baby grand to SOME--not all--of the sounds Brent brought on...(I say "some" b/c I have a real problem w/some of the cheesier synthesizer bells and whistles Brent sometimes resorted to, and the less said about Vince the better)....

In the end, it's not Donna's "fault" that Keith was asked to leave; and Keith, ironically, was heading down the very same path w/substance abuse that eventually took Brent's life.

What happened (Keith and Donna being asked to leave) was somewhat inevtiable...what's clear is that each era from the '60's through the '90's (well, the EARLY 90's anyway) contain terrific music from the world's greatest live band, and each era showcases a unique and beautiful sound.

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Poster: dr. flashback Date: Sep 7, 2005 9:19pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

Dear Grendel,
So very true, oh ye English major Dead fan! And thanks for stating some of the facts about Keith and Donna that sometimes aren't known by younger fans, or get obscured by rumors.
Donna CAN be a very fine singer, as many of the studio albums attest to, as well as many songs live where her harmonies help blend the vocals together just right. I just recently listened to the version of Brokedown from 5/1/77 where her singing is spot on and lovely indeed.
Keith IS a hard nut to crack, and in 20/20 hindsight, knowing about the drug problems he got into later, I suspect he had some personality problems that led to that, and that these possibly were the cause of him never really bonding completely with the rest of the band, feeling isolated, and why he was often so introverted and withdrawn on stage.
However, being a piano/keyboard guy myself, who would sell my grandmother to own a baby grand - I completely understand why he was so reluctant to give up that sound. But I do love the 1974 - 1977 sound he achieved on songs like Estimated - using a Fender Rhodes electric 88, played through I believe a Leslie speaker or maybe a heavy reverb turned up all the way. It gives it an organ reggae-ish sound without actually using an organ. Why he was reluctant to use a real Hammond B3, I don't know?? There are so many songs like Wharf Rat or Terrapin that just cry out for a B3 sound - but this would have to wait for the 1980's and Brent.
But listen carefully to Keith's piano work on the jams from 1972 thru 1974, especially 1973, and you'll hear some of the finest jazz-rock keyboard playing this side of Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea. Truly amazing, and he doesn't get the credit he deserves.
And let's not even mention Vince's honky-tonk, nails-on-the-chalkboard horribly inappropriate keyboard sound, shall we? Ooops I just did!
cheers,
Dr. Flashback

This post was modified by dr. flashback on 2005-09-08 04:19:51

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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Sep 7, 2005 10:21pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

Well put, Dr. F....

There are Keith gems to be gleaned from many of those early 70's shows and while I prefer '77 as THE great touring year of the Dead, I do love the jazzy sound they explored so well in '73 and '74...I'm no musician, but I do love jazz, and whenever someone complains about the Dead or Jerry "noodling"--and yeah, OK, sometimes he's guilty, but not usually--I always say 'well, are you a jazz fan? Do you like Coltrane, Miles, Monk, Rollins?--and if they say "yeah, of course", I say 'Go back and listen to this "Eyes" or that "Dark Star", b/c what Jerry's doing w/his guitar is really his version of the explorations guys like Coltrane were doing w/their horns...I've turned more than a few people around w/that argument/plea...Of course, if they say "no, I don't really 'get' jazz", I say, 'OK, well, have fun with your 3-chord, verse, verse, chorus, 4 and a half minute world of music. Good luck with that."

Like Bobby said, You aint gonna learn what you don't want to know!

GC

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Poster: patkelley Date: Sep 7, 2005 10:42pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

Everyone has made good points, I suppose. But I still like the Dead best in the 80s and 90s. There's a Constitutional Law concept known as "mootness," which is a judicially imposed restraint on the federal courts' power to hear certain disputes when there is no longer a controversy capable of resolution. It seems to me that this point might be moot. (And, honestly, Keith Godchaux compared to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea??)

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Poster: Ole Uncle John Date: Sep 8, 2005 4:22am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

Anyone who thinks Donna was all bad should check out some of the JGB shows from 76-77 (unfortunately not available here, try bt etree). In more intimate venues and with a 'smaller band' sound she sings like an angel.

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Poster: jhender501 Date: Sep 8, 2005 6:14am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

Agree with that 100%..was discussing that with a coworker just yesterday

Jim

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Poster: liranfa Date: Sep 8, 2005 1:37pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

In defense of Donna, the stage gear that the Grateful Dead used was extremely loud!!!! Trying to find your note over that was extremely difficult. All the other singers had instruments to reference their notes but Donna had to find hers while being blasted by the rest of the band. That's likely why she sounded so much better with JGB since they had about 1/3 the gear that the Grateful Dead had.

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Poster: factman Date: Mar 12, 2006 10:07pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

I think what's missing as a dynamic in this discussion is that musically, Keith was essentially two different people, ostensibly due to bad habits setting in during the post-hiatus years.

Most of the remarks about Keith's jazzy playing are directed specifically at 72-74, and I happen to agree with all of the comparisons. Alot of what they were playing in those years can easily be considered a branch off of the tree of thinking that produced Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson. Obviously the, ahem, "organic" nature was more to the forefront.

Personally, I don't care much for late '77 up through to the end of the Keith era. It's painful to hear what addiction did to that man's imagination. To a lesser degree, but absolutely just as noticeable, it's musically obvious where Jerry met heroin.

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Poster: sonomajon Date: Mar 12, 2006 11:07pm
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

Keith still had some chops left in selective 78 shows...check out his playing in the first set of 4-24-1978...IMHO one of the best first sets of the year...followed by 1-22-1978

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Poster: MTWAGS Date: Mar 13, 2006 12:33am
Forum: etree Subject: Re: Grateful Dead: Donna & Keith

MMM.. the black licorce version of the dead, ya either love it or ya hate it.